* consistent efficient performance
* very long service life with minimal disposal requirements
* universal availability
* no toxic or limited resources
* small vehicle to generating station capacity
* developed technology
* low weight and capital cost
The optimum energy converter employing phase change storage remains to be developed. The defining characteristic will be economy of liquid air (N2) consumption. The gas turbine uniquely meets this requirement as the ratio of liquid air(N2) to working fluid decreases with decreasing pressure ratio . The CryoGT is described by a Brayton cycle with a sink temperature of approximately – 190 C (– 315 F). It can burn most any fuel or run on recovered heat, reliability is high while maintenance and weight are low, and it is readily converted for injection of liquid air(N2) into an independently driven compressor.
In automotive application the CryoGT operating efficiency is 4 times higher than for a normally aspirated engine. In stationary application operating efficiency is 2.5 times higher than for a micro-turbine. Implications of CryoGT fuel consumption on emissions and fuel selection with respect to storage, safety, and cost are profound; especially advantageous to Hydrogen, which can be cogenerated using waste heat of air liquefaction. In addition, the technology has the unique advantage of competitive cost at inception, primarily due to the price of liquid air at less than 3 US c/lb  and convertibility of turbo-chargers to turbines. A hydrogen fueled CryoGT is more efficient than a fuel cell, does not require ultra-high purity, and can be implemented years ahead. Operating efficiency obviously does not take into account the renewable energy required for air liquefaction, nor does it account for fuel refining, distribution and exploration. In addition, a complete evaluation of the CryoGT and the Liquid Air/Nitrogen Economy (LA/N2E) must include the impact of reduced fuel consumption on alternate fuel development and emissions, handling safety associated with both fuel and liquid air, and alternate energy storage.
Production of liquid air or nitrogen requires about 40% of CryoGT power based on a liquefier Figure of Merit of 0.5 , a number already in practice. This figure does not include the benefit of cogeneration of fuel and space heating using liquefier waste heat. The refrigerant will be available with uniform geographical distribution from various intermittent sources, primarily wind and solar, supplemented by off-peak grid, vehicle recovery and geothermal.
The key to a viable LA/N2 Economy, however, is in reliquefaction of the boiled-off vapor; requiring only a small initial charge of LA/N2.
It is useful to re-define some terms associated with renewable energy before proceeding with a discussion involving the dual fluid (fuel and oxidizer/coolant) liquid air engine. The terms "tank-to-wheel” and “well-to-wheel”  used to describe vehicle efficiency including refining, distribution and exploration of fuel, are used herein as “operating” and “total”, respectively, for inclusion of stationary engines, non-fuel heat addition and liquefaction of air.
A Liquid Nitrogen Economy or liquid air economy was proposed in the early 1970's  shortly after a cryogenic engine was patented . Both the engine and the proposed Economy were limited to ambient engine inlet gas temperature. Subsequently some Rankine cycle expansion engines with sub-ambient compression have been built and tested. These include a fired stationary gas turbine  and a fuel-less liquid nitrogen engine with an ambient heated quasi-isothermal expander  utilizing a frost free-heat exchanger  for sub-compact vehicles. More advanced concepts have been proposed to reduce refrigerant consumption, including a Brayton cycle for fuel-less operation with ambient heating and sub-ambient cooling . The author of this blog has proposed a similar Brayton cycle with addition of over-ambient heating [11, 12]. Highview Power Storage is presently going forward with deployment of cryogenic storage technology based on the fuel-less engine , which was proto-typed in the early 2000's.
Two modes of operation are considered for both a stationary and an automotive gas turbine;
* Power, in which the gas turbine operates in a modified Brayton cycle with quasi-isothermal compression due to liquid air injection.
* Storage, in which renewable energy drives a liquefier to produce liquid air.
Refrigerated compression increases the source to sink temperature difference in a modified Brayton Cycle by injection of refrigerant upstream of the compressor. Stored energy of refrigerant is added by lowering the sink temperature just as stored energy of fuel is added by raising the source temperature. Regeneration increases cycle efficiency and is included between the sink and ambient to cool intake air just as for heating intake air to the source. Quasi-isentropic compression increases working fluid density while lowering compression work. The preferred refrigerant is liquid air or nitrogen because it is always available. Carnot operating efficiency is over 90% with typical turbine inlet gas temperature of 1600 F and liquid air temperature of -300 F. Even in an unheated system Carnot operating efficiency exceeds 70%. High Carnot operating efficiency translates to high efficiency of the actual cycle, increasing inversely with respect to compression ratio , except as limited by recuperator or regenerator effectiveness. In low capacity engines, operating efficiency of the CryoGT is about 2.5 times as compared to a micro-turbine and about 4 times as for a gasoline engine. Liquid air replaces between 60% and 80% of the fuel in vehicle application and between 40% and 60% in stationary application, depending upon engine size and compression ratio.
Renewables for stationary use include building amplified wind and station off-peak as well as natural sources. Renewables available for vehicle use include deceleration, draft, shock and solar. It is important to economize refrigerant consumption, especially in motor vehicle use, because of refrigerant weight limitation. Low fuel consumption is advantageous to development of alternative fuels, and cogeneration of fuel with waste heat of refrigerant liquefaction provides further advantage. Development of an efficient refrigerant machine for vehicle use will increase refrigerant mileage.
Comparison of CryoGT performance with other engines needs to include both liquid air and fuel preparation energy to determine total efficiency. Preparation of fuel includes refining, distribution and exploration, however preparation of liquid air involves only refining (liquefaction) , since it does not have to be distributed or explored for. Refining of fuel such as coal or gasoline presently requires intense energy use, generally not amenable to renewable energy input such as wind and solar. Preparation of liquid air may utilize several advanced processes, including; compression/wet expansion , magnetic and thermo-acoustic, which are amenable to wind, solar and other renewable input. Compression/Wet Expansion is selected as the Reference Stationary Liquefier in the Liquid Air Economy because it is expected to perform as well as the other more exotic types, while requiring less development work. Active Magnetic Regenerative Liquefaction (AMRL)  driven by recovered vehicle energy should become a viable on-board re-liquefier, making driving range fuel limited. AMRL is under Department of Energy development for natural gas and hydrogen liquefaction.
Performance and Cost
Table 1 presents operating efficiency, total efficiency, mass ratio of liquid air to gasoline (Lqa/G), and gasoline + liquid air cost for a range of CryoGT pressure ratio (Pr), applicable to vehicle capacity from 7 to 28 kW at 50 mph. An Otto cycle vehicle engine is included for comparison.
Pr Op. eff. Ttl. eff. Lqa/G Cost
(%) (%) (c/mi)
CryoGT 1.50 51 19 43 12
2.00 64 27 33 8
3.00 70 30 31 7
Otto 10.00 18 14 NA 11
Refrigerant consumption is further improved by addition of hybrid drive with regenerative braking. Assumed costs are $4.00 US/gal of gasoline and $0.25 US/gal of liquid air. Fuel cost is further reduced by use of a lower grade. Refrigerant cost is reduced by utilizing liquefier waste heat in cogeneration of renewable fuel.
Table 2 presents operating efficiency and total efficiency for a solar heated CryoGT with a pressure ratio of 3, applicable to distributed generation capacity of 28 kW. Efficiency of a turbine with ambient air compression and battery storage is included for comparison.
Op. eff. Ttl. eff.
CryoGT 70 30
Ambient Cmp. Turbine later later
Results are based on a regenerator effectiveness of 90% and turbine and compressor efficiency of 85%. Preparation efficiency for liquid air is based on a figure of merit of 0.5, appropriate for an advanced compression/wet expansion liquefier.
Refrigerant economy is improved by utilizing liquefier waste heat in cogeneration, including renewable fuel in station application and space heating in local application.
Design features which make the CryoGT viable for low capacity application include:
* jet-compressor/rotary regenerator
* liquid air heat sink
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